By 2018, most providers have moved from paper charts to an electronic health record (EHR) system. In many addiction treatment and behavioral health practices, however, the transition is incomplete or remains only in the planning stages.
For those behavioral health and addiction treatment facilities that have not completed the switch, here are five tips for moving to an EHR.
1. Plan as much ahead of time as possible.
Once a practice has decided to move to an EHR and has chosen a vendor, it’s time to create a detailed plan. Details to consider include:
Setting a specific transition period
Deciding what to do with old files, such as hiring a document shredding company
Current workflow and all the ways an EHR may change it
What facility staff will need to learn, or relearn if the workflow significantly changes
2. Make sure all staff members are on board and appropriately trained.
A facility’s decision-makers are not the only ones who should be on board with the new EHR. Any staff member who will interact with the system should support the change.
Explain the decision to both staff and patients. Make sure they understand the purpose of the switch to EHR, what they can to change, and how they will benefit. Provide thorough training for clinicians and administrative staff to help them get used to the new system.
3. Consider moving patient charts to the EHR individually rather than scanning all of them at once.
If your practice intends to remove the charts of absentee or deceased patients, it may be more helpful to move individual charts and weed out data you don’t want to keep.
However, it is up to the individual practice to decide if this is the best approach or not. While it can be helpful for reducing duplicate information and saving time on patients who have been away for many years, many facilities may want to keep even the oldest patient information.
4. Hire temporary, additional staff to help with the transition.
EHRs bring numerous benefits to a practice. The transition itself, however, can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Consider hiring one or two extra staff members on a short-term basis to help with new data entry and organization. This will allow existing team members to continue focusing on patients, billing, and other regular tasks.
5. Be patient and flexible.
Moving to a new EHR can be a difficult process. Give staff members and patients plenty of time to get used to the change. Make workflow adjustments as needed. Stay in communication with the EHR vendor, even after the move is complete. If something was left undone, if there are errors, or you require modifications, an ongoing relationship with the vendor makes it easier to iron out any kinks.
Looking for an EHR system tailored specifically for behavioral health and addiction treatment? BestNotes solutions offer HIPAA compliance and the ability to manage inquiries, admissions, medications, billing, aftercare, and lab results. Contact us to learn more!